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Jeff Spevak

Jeff Spevak has been a Rochester arts reporter for nearly three decades, with seven first-place finishes in the Associated Press New York State Features Writing Awards while working for the Democrat and Chronicle. He has also been published in Musician and High Times magazines, contributed to WXXI, City newspaper and Post magazine, and occasionally performs spoken-word pieces around town. Some of his haikus written during the Rochester jazz festival were self-published in a book of sketches done by Scott Regan, the host of WRUR’s Open Tunings show. Spevak founded an award-winning barbecue team, The Smokin’ Dopes, and believes Bigfoot is real. His book on the life of a Lake Ontario sailor who survived the sinking of his ship during World War II will be published in April of 2019 by Lyons Press.

HomeStage: John Dady

Apr 21, 2020

Looks like we won't have live in-person concerts for a bit, so we'll bring some performances to you, with a series called HomeStage.

Jeff Spevak presents Rochester Music Hall of Famer John Dady. We'll have more performances for you by Rochester's talented musicians from the most intimate stage of all...their homes! 

As a percussionist, Marty York is all washed up. On Monday evening, he was banging on the washing machine at his home, pounding out a rhythm, whacking a cowbell.

This is music in the age of coronavirus. Musicians confined to their homes, stripped of creative connections, driven to abusing large appliances. York is the drummer with Watkins & the Rapiers, a Rochester band stripped of its Monday-night residency at The Little Café. 

Imagine you're driving in a car through the mountains, and up ahead is a tunnel. You enter the tunnel, and immediately the sunlight disappears. You don't know how long the tunnel is, how long the darkness will last, or what you'll see when you come out on the other side.

That's where we are now.

The producers of the CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival announced Thursday afternoon that the event’s June dates are being canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, but they left open the door for a rescheduling in the fall of this year.

"In the past two weeks since we announced our 2020 festival lineup, our world has been turned upside down,” co-producers John Nugent and Marc Iacona said in a press release. “The health crisis we are experiencing has resulted in significant loss of life and illness, growing fear, and unprecedented disruption in all aspects of our lives.”

Idle hands are the devil's tools. Unless we place a musical instrument in those hands.

The coronavirus pandemic has put virtually every musician in the country out of work. But many have responded by retreating to their basements. Recording a song. Then letting it run loose on the internet, where an innocent browser will uncover something beautiful. Such as the Rochester band Violet Mary, and its stunning version of Led Zeppelin's "The Rain Song."

For this moment, a dramatic response was called for. It was time to come up big. Matt Ramerman had what he calls a local "power roster" of musicians lined up and ready to go this weekend. He had sponsors. He had a venue, the biggest club in town, Anthology. The technology needed to stream the show live on the internet was ready. The message: We're down, but not out …

Coronavirus' vast, leathery bat wings are slowly encircling the planet, casting a shadow across the globe, choking out light, our culture. Go home, draw the curtains closed, turn on the television, do not answer calls from friends inviting you to dinner or a movie.

The moment calls for a new cautionary label. It was duck and cover, for those who survived the Cold War. Shelter in place, for those who heard shots from a lone gunman in the next classroom. Now, social distancing.

Most years, by this point in the story, John Nugent, the producer and artistic director of the CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival, generally exudes an attitude that the event is on automatic pilot. All acts are booked, the food trucks are gassed up, the weather vanes are blowing in the right direction.

Add the Rochester Music Hall of Fame's April induction ceremony to events lost to the coronavirus outbreak.

The University of Rochester, which runs Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, is one of many schools and organizations throughout the country that are either canceling or postponing events.

"They came out on Monday and said any athletic event, any music event, any event happening on a UR facility that would draw a large crowd through April 15 either needs to be canceled or postponed," said Hall of Fame President Jack Whittier.

Brandi Carlile and Ratt are the latest shows to be added to the Constellation Brands-Marvin Sands Performing Arts Center summer schedule.

Carlile, whose most recent album, By the Way, I Forgive You, was nominated for a Grammy Award, has an 8 p.m. June 27 show at the venue outside of Canandaigua.

Ratt is joined by a lineup of '80s-era metal of varying degrees of volume and hair in Tom Keifer's Cinderella, Skid Row and Slaughter. That show is at 7 p.m. June 13.

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